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House panel recommends killing bill to establish 24-hour waiting period for abortions

The House Judiciary Committee yesterday recommended killing a bill that would require a 24-hour waiting period for abortions in New Hampshire.

On a 13-6 vote, the panel recommended the full House vote down the bill. Eleven Democrats and two Republicans voted to kill the bill, while six Republicans voted in support of it.

“I believe strongly that we cannot and should not intrude ourselves and our values in the lives of other people,” said Rep. Marjorie Smith, a Durham Democrat and the committee’s chairwoman. “And people have the right to be left alone, to make their own choices.”

The legislation, sponsored by Republican Reps. Jane Cormier of Alton and Lenette Peterson of Merrimack, is similar to a bill that passed the House last year but was killed by the Senate. The 24-hour waiting period was then attached to a bill to expand the state’s research and development tax credit and passed the House again, only to be killed again by the Senate.

Republicans at the time controlled both chambers. Democrats now control the House.

The bill taken up by the Judiciary Committee yesterday, the “Abortion Information Act,” would require physicians to provide women
with information about, among other things, the medical risks associated with an abortion at least 24 hours before the procedure is performed.

In the case of a medical emergency, the bill would allow an immediate abortion, so long as the doctor certifies in writing that it is an emergency.

Peterson said yesterday that the bill requires women to “sleep on it, so it’s not a rash decision” and doesn’t prevent them from then seeking an abortion.

“An abortion is an elective procedure,” Peterson said, adding, “It’s just 24 hours. There’s no medical procedure that – unless it’s surgery, emergency surgery –
that’s less than 24 hours.
If it’s elective, there’s none that take place within 24 hours.”

But Rep. Larry Phillips, a Keene Democrat, said the 24-hour waiting period would be “an imposition on women,” particularly low-income women.

“This bill is posed as an information-sharing bill, but the testimony, as we heard it, person after person talked about anti-abortion, anti-abortion,” he said. “So, I have to conclude it’s an anti-abortion bill.”

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)

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